The first openly transgender person scheduled for execution in the US is pleading for compassion from Missouri’s governor and citing mental health problems.
Amber McLaughlin’s 49-year-old attorneys requested Monday that Republican Governor Mike Parson spare her.
Beverly Guenther, 45, was killed by McLaughlin on November 20, 2003. Guenther was murdered by stabbing in St. Louis County after being raped.
According to the anti-execution Death Penalty Information Center, there has never been a known instance of an openly transgender prisoner being executed in the United States.
“It’s wrong when anyone’s executed regardless, but I hope that this is a first that doesn’t occur. Amber has shown great courage in embracing who she is as a transgender woman in spite of the potential for people reacting with hate, so I admire her display of courage.” Larry Komp, a federal public defender, said.
In the clemency petition, McLaughlin’s attorneys mentioned her horrific background and mental health concerns, which the jury was never told about. According to the letter to Parson, when she was a toddler, a foster mom put feces in her face, and her adoptive father tased her. She made several attempts to end her life, both as a kid and as an adult.
According to Parson spokeswoman Kelli Jones, the Governor’s Office is considering her clemency plea.
According to Komp, Parson will meet with McLaughlin’s attorneys on Tuesday.
After a jury couldn’t decide between death and life in prison without the possibility of parole, a judge gave McLaughlin the death penalty.
In 2016, a federal judge in St. Louis issued an order for a fresh sentencing hearing, citing issues with McLaughlin’s trial attorneys’ performance and flawed jury instructions. A federal appeals court bench, however, restored the death penalty in 2021.
Additionally, McLaughlin’s attorneys argued that Parson should spare her life due to the jury’s impasse and McLaughlin’s remorse.
According to Karen Pojmann, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Corrections, there has only ever been one woman put to death in Missouri.